Poker: Rocking around the clock in Atlantic City

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The Independent Culture
ATLANTIC CITY is not as bad as people say. It's worse. But for poker players, this has changed. Thanks to new gaming regulations, poker has come to Atlantic City in a big way. There are 50 tables at Trump's Taj Mahal, 30 at the Sands and 25 at Resorts International. Gaming is now permitted round the clock, instead of shutting down at 4am.

Casino poker is good fun, for several reasons. First, there is always a game going - no need to phone round trying to find half a dozen players with a free night. Secondly, the games are usually limit poker. The antes at seven card stud may start as low as 25 cents, with betting limits of dollars 2 on the third and fourth cards and dollars 4 on the next three. The house cuts a couple of bucks each hand.

In Texas Hold 'em (two cards down and five dealt face-up in common), which is the most popular game in American casinos, the small games start at dollars 3 and dollars 6 raises. This means that dollars 200 or so should see you through the night. In the bigger games, such as dollars 20 and dollars 40 raises, which is the standard pro game, or high stakes seven card stud, play is far more skilful.

In casino poker, it is necessary to play tight, because the limit on the betting means you cannot drive out an opponent with a huge bet, as in pot limit play.

Suppose you are playing seven card stud, with dollars 5 and dollars 10 raises, you have a middling pair like eights or nines, and fail to improve on the last card. One other player, who has been betting aggressively, showing a possible straight or flush, bets dollars 10 at you. What do you do?

Unless you are morally certain you are beaten, it is an automatic call. If all the bets have been taken there will be close to dollars 100 in the pot. For dollars 10 you are getting 10 to 1 for your investment. Whereas in a pot limit game, when the four-flush or four-straight player can bet dollars 100 at you, you have to throw your hand away. Remember this principle the other way round, when you happen to be the four-flusher.

The reason for the changes in Atlantic City is to help the ailing casinos meet competition from new resorts, riverboats, casinos on Indian reservations and so on. Poker players - Trump needs you]

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